Peace in Newtown. Peace in our world. Peace in our hearts.

18 12 2012

The Prince of Peace – He has come. He is coming. He will come.

Unfortunately, we don’t really want Him.  Or perhaps I should say we don’t really want the peace that he brings!

We SAY we do. But we don’t. At least that’s the way it appears!

We buy our children violent video games, with people running around shooting up towns and cities, and call the victors “heros.” We send our teens to Hollywood’s money-making glamorizations of murder and killing, and then wonder why there’s bullying in our schools. And worst of all, in the name of freedom and the second amendment, we claim that it’s every person’s right to own weapons of mass destruction, and make little attempt to enforce laws that keep them out of the hands of those who are in no position to excercise such rights.

We all SAY that we want all that the Prince of Peace seeks to bring; but such sentiments are not often enough reflected in the way we live our lives.

And please, let’s not naively say that this is because we ‘took prayer out of our schools.’ My kids prayed their way through high school, and no one can ever keep hearts from living in communion with their creator. Praying without ceasing is a way of life, and it is not something that can be forbidden or outlawed. And we certainly can’t blame the violence on a lack of Bible Study; because frankly, the Bible is full of more senseless and unGodly violence than all of the Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwartznegger movies put together! The violent state of our culture and much of the world cannnot be simplistically blamed upon a theology that contradicts our own, or on the view of an opposing political party.

Our culture is violent because we have become lazy people. Following the pattern of the Christ-child is hard, and living the ‘way of the Jesus’ often means putting others before ourselves. Our walks with God, revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of the one whose birth we are preparing to celebrate, are not easy ones.  Faithfulness is often about resisting the selfish, money-driven trends of our culture, and this is hard — for all of us. Making sacrafices for the good and well-being of others, and asking not just what is good for ‘me’, but what is good for ‘us’ — well, such attitudes are challenging to say the least.

Never the less, this is the call of the Prince of Peace, and peace will never come to our lives, homes, schools, churches, nations, or world, until we learn to takes serious the call of God to become peacemakers.  And this is not true just for those of us who claim to be Christ-followers. It is true for any person, of any religion that is seeking to know God.  And it is also true for any of us who claim to be Viriginians, residents of a “commonwealth” that is commited to the life, liberty, and well-being of ALL people.

Friends, Jesus came to show us the way to peace. He came, and is still here, to reveal ways of living that promote “shalom” in our hearts and homes, churches and communitites. And although we often fall short, the Holy Spirit contines to work and move in all of our lives in ways that will promote this peace.  But we must have the courage to follow, and there is no room for any sort of apathy.  We must make the task of becoming peacemakers a priority in our lives.

If God is indeed love, peace is the heart that holds it!  And God’s peace can only dwell in us when we acknowledge that like so much of our discipleship being a peacemaker will challenge long-held assumptions and ideas about what it means to follow in the footsteps of our Savior.  It is a realization that mandates we become more patient with our children and families. It demands that we become more fogiving of others and less angry toward those who challenge us. It forces us to consider the radical dispensation of grace when we’re prone to want to seek revenge.  It requires us to guard our hearts and to carefully consider how we and those we love entertain ourselves.  And it asks us to realize that indeed, it does take a village to raise a child, and each one of us has a part of play in growing a peace-filled world.

This is the peace that we celebrate this time of year. And this is the peace into which we all must learn to live. It is not just the absence of war, it is the wholeness that comes when we are intimately walking with the one who fashioned and made us.

So indeed . . . let there be peace on earth. But let it begin with me . . . with us . . . in Newtown, in our world, and in our hearts.